sustainability.: Let’s Start With a Straw, Earth Day 2019.

earth day forever

two friends run on a protected beach, California, 2019

Bordering two coasts for about a decade, I’ve been intoxicated with the polarities that keep me in love with inhabiting Los Angeles, my native home and New York my adult home.

As I’ve become more aware and publicly concerned with how to use my voice through The Coffeetographer, while straddling two cities and being at home in the world, I find it increasingly important while here on earth to love it more, embrace it more, fight for it more. Now, I don’t believe that the individual steps that I make will save the earth from the limitless stats that are churned out about its endangerment, but I do believe that my steps, coupled with a lot of other individual and collective steps, can make a positive impact and reverse negative ones.

Sustainability is daunting, one gigantic rabbit hole. But, just like coffee was a rabbit hole I willingly went down years ago by starting this webzine, sustainability has become another. I won’t let what seems bigger than me deter me from learning and sharing ways that we call can become a little more intoxicated with helping our planet from our frame of reference and that begins with our lifestyle.

Five hundred million plastic straws are used daily in the United States, according to an ordinance that asks that the hollow tube for sucking liquid or semi-liquids substance that constitutes prepared food or beverage, designed for single use, be removed statewide from food and beverage vendors unless upon customer request.

Sister coast New York, is not too far behind from a ban of its own on plastic straws. Councilman and Brooklyn Democrat Rafael L. Espinal Jr., leads the charge on a bill to outlaw single-use plastic straws and bags.

How did we begin drinking from such tubes that we now know as straws?

Marvin Stone is best known for inventing a drinking utensil –the straw-  that we use to sip out of cups.  Specifically, Stone is credited with inventing the paper drinking straw, with natural rye grass and holly reed straws preceding his creation. Patented on January 3, 1888, the Stone Straw Corporation, with Stone at the helm, created a single use paper straw unaffected by natural elements thus preserving the flavor of the beverage consumed. Nearly ten years later, with production surpassing that of cigarette holders, two patents were published for a machine to make artificial paper straws.

Consumer culture has come a long way since 1888 and so has the need to sip and suck beverages. In 1937 Joseph B. Friedman through the Flexible Straw Corporation patented a flexible  drinking straw upon discovering his daughter needed a thicker straw to drink her milkshake. Then, in the early eighties, Erik Lipson owner of Fun-Time International took the Krazy Straws craze to mass levels of fun, creating numerous ideations of bending, winding and printable straws. B y 2007, Aardvark®.   reintroduced paper straws into the market, fueled by an “anti-plastic movement…looking for more sustainable, eco-friendly options,” according to its website. In 2018, Hoffmaster Group Inc bought Aardvark, which is the only made in the USA compostable paper straw made of food grade materials.

Today, straws go way beyond paper. They take on various materials such as aluminum, bamboo, corn, glass and plastic – the latter being a culprit.  The city of Los Angeles’ has effectively banned plastic as of today, #EarthDay, April 22, 2019 for business with more than 26 employees. According to the earlier mentioned ordinance, those with less than 26 have until October 1 to get on board.

Biodegradable alternatives to single use plastic exist. Today, we look at a few coffee shops that are offering fun and creative options to plastic. As well, the culture shares some select organizations at the helm of creating eco-friendly materials to help mitigate a move from plastic to sustainable straw.

  1. Bad Coffee | Costa Mesa

Operating for two years young and a recent subject in our photo essay,  Bad Coffee is full of natural light, great coffee as a multi-roaster shop and options for alternative use straws. Customized with badstraw on its sipping end, the metal straws here are aesthetically pleasing in this café environment and sustainable too. ($4)

  1. Blue Bottle | National

Founded by a violinist who just wanted better coffee, James Freeman, Blue Bottle Coffee now owned by Nestle is taking a bigger step towards sustainability by getting rid of its iconic blue straw. While it was bioplastic, it still acted like normal plastic – refusing to biodegrade and release methane according to an email farewell note. Now, it is using craft paper straws that are 100% plastic free and compostable at home or in a landfill.

  1. Café Demitasse | Little Tokyo, Mid-Wilshire, Santa Monica

An official sustainability partner to The Coffeetographer, Café Demitasse first struck us with its black and white spiral patterned straws at its Santa Monica location.  On a year-long journey to actively remove waste each and every month this year, its paper straws catch our eyes and our earth sensitive hearts.

  1. Daydream Surf Shop, Costa Mesa

A multi-roaster specialty coffee and surf shop pursuing its daydream and inspiring others to do so too, wave upon wave, houses beautiful ceramics for in-house zero waste consumption. Additionally, should you opt for a straw along with your drink of choice while at Daydream Surf Shop there are corn based straws and glass options, the latter retails for $10.

  1. Smith Canteen, Brooklyn, NY

With a biography that says, “preparing coffee and baked goods for people who love the planet,” there’s a lot to want to love by following the journey of Smith Canteen. It is on a mission to be the greenest and single-use plastic coffee shop in Brooklyn. When you bring your own cup and/or stay you get ten percent off for opting not to use disposables.  The Canteen is tracking the cups they are keeping out of landfill on their IG profile so stay tuned.


Eco-Friendly Companies

Ever Eco

Building upon the bendy straw, Ever Eco makes sustainable essentials replacing single use plastics like the reusable straw. Shipping worldwide, its silicone straws are soft in texture and it’s pastel colorways.

Happily Eco After

For our readers in Melbourne, Happily Eco After, makes sustainable alternatives to everyday products, including the straw. These reusable silver beauties are great all year round and especially for festival season it says to which this culture agrees.

Green Turtle Company

With a passion for the salvation of sea turtles, this company makes eco-friendly, nontoxic resuable straw – boba, glass boba and glass regular. Its boba straws come in a variety of designs, including mini sea turtles printed upon them.


All straws need not be straight. Thankfully, there’s Pureosophy’s reusable alternative straws in gold stainless steel. Gather these fine beauties in multiple sizes – straight, bent and smoothie – atop your coffee bars for its beauty and sustainability. International shipping available.

Package Free Shop

Straight out of Brooklyn, Package Free Shop helps you live a low impact lifestyle while finding alternative to single-use plastic products.  Its’ 100% compostable, organic made straws made out of bamboo aim to lessen the 1.6 non-recyclable plastic straws used by the average American daily, this is a beautiful incentive to choose an alternative sipping tube.

Sustainability is a journey, lets chose an adventure that makes earth a safer ride while we’re here.